Christianity is a Religion and a Relationship!
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
“Saying that “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship” actually creates a false dichotomy. It deceives people into thinking that they have to choose between a religion and a relationship. Instead, the division needs to be made between true and false religion, and between a reconciled and an estranged relationship.”
The above paragraph was written by Pastor John McArthur, and I agree with him on this issue.
If you attempt to define religion or what it means to be religious by the deeds or actions of a group of people, then I think you miss the narrative. All of us in our humanity have the propensity to miss the mark or act contrary to a set of standards or beliefs but I don’t believe that you can disregard the importance of religion because someone misrepresented it in some way.
The truth of what Pastor McArthur wrote is that we cannot have a relationship without religion and that we all have a relationship with God, the issue is, do we have a good relationship (reconciled) or a bad relationship (enemies of God).
“For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him. (Romans 5:10-11) - R E L A T I O N S H I P!
Religion at its core is not following rules but it is about (in this case) Godly people adhering to a set of beliefs and practices that have been passed down by God through Christ and the Apostles. You cannot be holy without being religious!
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you his holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16)
We simply cannot have a relationship with God and Christ without being religious as evidenced from above. We (Christians) are required to live by certain principals and precepts if we want to “be like him” when he comes. The question is what type of relationship do you have? One of convenience or one of obedience?
For further study see:
On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers by Schleiermacher, Friedrich Institutes of the Christian Religion by Calvin, John
++Troy A. Alexander Like Comment Share